Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Democracy in action

Yesterday was the official kickoff of the election season. As a result the election speaker trucks were on the road:



That is a DPJ(民主党) truck preaching the message about why Koizumi needs to go. Before then I had come across a Communist Party truck and all they could talk about was America no Sensou...(アメリカの戦争)(America's war).

There is more. Here is the speaker, a rather elderly gent speaking in impassioned terms about Koizumi and the issue of postal reform:



What is amazing to me is that there was a crowd listening:


You cannot see it in the picture, but there are cameramen actually taking pictures and video of the event. Simply amazing! I had been down in Yokosuka for some training and decided that, rather than go back with the herd in the van, I would take the train back, go to Tokyo, and get drunk in my favorite expat pub in Meguro. Scott, the bartender, is one of those guys who can draw you into a conversation whether you want to be or not. He is a great soul who has been through a lot to stay in Tokyo. He loves cartoons. I had not seen him in about 3 months when I walked in, and yet it was like I had never left the fold.....That, is my kind of bar!

Regretfully for Scott, his father passed away last year so some of the "bounce" was out of his step. Nonetheless, he still provided a friendly atmosphere and some good times. If you come to Tokyo, I strongly recommend it.
In the meantime, life in the deep south sucks thanks to Katrina. More and more its apparent that the devastation there is huge.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A shameless theft and crossposting!

This post is verbatum from Soldiers for the Truth, Hack's (former) web site that is still being maintained by some truly great Americans. The most recent posting has words of warning for Rummy and his legions of sycophants:

An Interview with Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, Combat Commander

Part I

By Nathaniel R.Helms

Retired Lieutenant General Hal Moore is keeping his eye on the U.S. Army. Although he has been retired almost twenty years he is still a keen observer of combat and what he sees in Iraq and Afghanistan is deeply disturbing to him, he said. In the meantime he still shuttles between his Colorado mountain retreat and his Auburn, Alabama home keeping in touch with his family, his former soldiers, and the legions of admirers who still seek the wise counsel of the soldier who wrote the book on coolness under fire.

Lt. Gen. Hal Moore At 83. Moore is now a widower. His beloved wife Julie passed away in 2004 after a full and happy life together that included five children and 11 grandchildren. During Moore illustrious career and their devoted 33-year marriage they lived in 28 different houses on several continents while sharing the tremendous social and spiritual burdens that weigh so heavily on the backs of soldiers and their families. Then as now Moore says he relies heavily on his strong Catholic faith and his never-ending belief in America and its soldiers. Whatever problems the Army now faces, he says, it will ultimately overcome them.

Like many brave and resourceful military leaders, Ulysses S. Grant, George S. Patton, and the ill-fated George Armstrong Custer - with whom Moore's path would cross again in the 7th Cavalry - he struggled through the academics of West Point Military Academy while excelling in soldiering. West Point historian Col. Cole C. Kingseed wrote that in the academy yearbook "Howitzer" it was noted the Moore gaduated in 1945 "untouched by the machinations of the T.D. [Tactical Department] and Academic Departments." The same qualities would make Moore a brilliant combat soldier and an outspoken Pentagon politician during his star-studded career. Defense Watch talked with Moore during a 90-minute telephone interview last week while he was at his Colorado home. He retired from the Army in 1977 with over 32 years active service. Commissioned a 2nd Lt of Infantry in 1945, Moore served and commanded at all levels from platoon throughdivision. Before the Korean War Moore served in the 187th Airborne Regiment in Sendai, Japan and tested parachutes at Fort Bragg, N.C. Moore figures he made at least 150 jumps in three years between 1948 and 1952 after an inauspicious beginning. On his very first leap into the unknown his parachute hung on the tail of a Curtiss C-46 "Commando" cargo plane and Moore was dragged behind the plane before he could cut loose and use his reserve. Kingseed noted that Moore's ability "to take a few seconds to think under such hazardous conditions would become a hallmark of Moore's character for the remainder of his military career."

After his retirement from active duty in 1977 Moore became the Executive Vice President of the Crested Butte Ski Area in Crested Butte, CO. During the '80s and early '90s, he researched and wrote his famous book,
We Were Soldiers Once...and Young with his co-author, Joe Galloway, a marvelous examination of the battle (LZ X-ray) at Ia Drang Valley, first major battle of the Vietnam War. At the time Moore was a Lt. Col. and Battalion Commander of the famed 1st Bn., 7th Cav., 1st Cav. Div. and Galloway was a UPI correspondent who was there. The book was later made into a must-see movie called We Were Soldiers Once starring Mel Gibson. DefenseWatch asked Moore to present his take on the condition of the U.S. Army as it enters its third year in the Global War on Terror. Moore knows far more about such things than ordinary observers. During the fierce battles on Pork Chop Hill during the Korean War and his famous stand with the 7th Cavalry in the I Drang Valley in central South Vietnam in 1965 reside permanently in the annals of military lore. Perhaps less known but applied with equal impact was the stamp Moore left on Army tactics and doctrine during his post-Vietnam years when he rose to be the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (Deputy G-1) of the Army. It is a true hot seat where social, economic and political pressures all collide over who is allowed into the Army and how the Army is allowed to deploy the soldiers it recruits. Many of the potential problems with "modern" personnel doctrine Moore was confronted with in the late 1970s is now coming home to roost.

"I am very concerned about the status of the Army right now. How it is being employed now. I am concerned about repeated tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan; concerned about the heavy usage of National Guard and Reserve forces, and I am fearful that if this is not rectified the Army is being - could become - broken," Moore began.

Moore has personal experience in the matter, he said. He has a son in the Army, a lieutenant colonel who has already been deployed to Afghanistan and expects to be deployed again if the war continues very long.

"They are gone for a year or so and then in a year or even six months they are gone again. It has a terrible affect on family life. We have all heard about the Army losing trained officers and sergeants because of this. The NCOs are the very heart and core of the Army, Moore said. " We lost a lot of experienced non-commissioned officers because of their commitment in Vietnam. Most served at least one and sometimes two tours in Vietnam. Then it was 'either the Army or me.' We lost a lot of great sergeants because they were vulnerable."

Even more alarming to Moore than the Army's rotation policy is the apparent trend toward deploying women in combat. (Skippy-san comment- AMen!) Moore said it is a trend that will ultimately harm's both the Army's morale and capabilities as women take on larger and more vulnerable combat roles.

Another unique event going on right now in Iraq, and probably to a lesser extent in Afghanistan, is the women we have in actual combat conditions. They are being killed or wounded in MP units, or logistics units, or driving trucks or handling equipment. The enemy in Iraq is just like the enemy in Vietnam. The terrorists are everywhere and nowhere. There is no true permanently safe area in Iraq, even the Green Zone," Moore said. "I definitely do not believe that women [should be] in combat conditions. I took that position when I was Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel when liberals were trying to get women in position to be killed or vulnerable. (Again from Skippy-AMEN!!!)

"I remember studying the Israeli experience. The report that I read said that when the women in the unit were killed it had a very, very deleterious effect on the males in the unit. The morale and combat efficiency declined when their fellow soldiers were women who became causalities. I just don't want them in combat conditions.

"Pregnancy, I would expect that to happen. The Almighty God gave young people the urges to produce and they will do it whenever they can." Moore added without endorsement. Editor's Note: Numerous studies by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) provide a myriad of reason why the Israelis do not allow women in combat except under the most extreme circumstances. One such study, Why Israel Doesn't Send Women Into Combat, by Martin Van Crevvland in Parameters (Spring 1993) discusses the fact that "Israel's experience is often used improperly to support the case for sending American women into combat." The author asserts that this analogy is flawed, however, because no Israeli woman has served in combat since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The author points out that even though the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has very often faced overwhelming odds, Israel is very proud of the fact that Israeli women have never deliberately been exposed to the risks of combat, not even in the most desperate situations. The article provides good background information on how women are drafted, trained, and employed in the IDF, but concludes that because most women are physically less capable of performing well in combat than men, experimenting with women in combat is a luxury Israel simply cannot afford. The information from Martin Van Crevvland is held in an annotated bibliography created for use as a esource document in the event the US Army is sued by a Plaintiff challenging the legality or constitutionality of the Army's policy excluding women from assignment to combat military occupational specialties (MOSs), according to the Combined Arms Research Library at the U.S. Army Command & Staff College. The bibliography was developed from esearch into books, theses, studies, articles, documents, and any other materials that "would be relevant to a Plaintiff's lawsuit, both in support of and in opposition thereto."
In Part II Moore talks about President George W. Bush's reason for waging war in Iraq, the political consequences of his policies, and the realities of war in the Middle East.

An excellent short biography of Moore was written by
COL. COLE C. KINGSEED, USA Ret., Ph.D., a former professor of history at the U.S. Military Academy.


An interesting anecdotal narrative history of the Battle at Ia Drang Valley can be found at
http://www.lzxray.com

Army War College - Monograph of Battles of Ia
Drang Valley – PDF



DefenseWatch Editor Nathaniel R. "Nat" Helms is a Vietnam veteran, former police officer, long-time journalist and war correspondent living in Missouri. He is the author of two books, Numba One – Numba Ten and Journey Into Madness: A Hitchhiker's Account of the Bosnian Civil War, both available at www.ebooks-online.com. He can be reached at natshouse1@charter.net. Send Feedback responses to­ dwfeedback@yahoo.com.



Nothing else to say. Amen and amen to his comments on the war and his ideas about women in any combat unit ( inlcuding aviation units). He was nicer than I am e.g. BITE ME Pat Schroeder!.

Skippy-san

Monday, August 29, 2005

Ahh the good old days........

Tonight, Casablanca was on TV. As I have noted before, I love that movie, as it symbolizes a time when Hollywood made movies : a) with a plot and b) actually had some quality acting in them.

Also its not a PC movie. I was thinking about that the other day as I watched a History Channel documentary about the Tiger tank. In it, as part of the background music at one point, they had the Panzer marching song:

Ob's sturmt oder schneit, ( Whether it's storming or shining)
Ob die Sonne uns lacht,(or the sun is laughing at us,)
Der Tag gluhend heiss (and the day glows hot,)
Oder eiskalt die Nacht.(or the night is ice-cold;)

Bestaubt sind die Gesichter, (If our faces are covered with dust,)
Doch froh ist unser Sinn, (Our spirits are happy,)
Ist unser Sinn; (as are our thoughts)
Es braust unser Panzer (Our Panzer forges ahead)
Im Sturmwind dahin. (through stormy wind.)


That made me remember my high school German teacher, who taught us that song in second year German. He used it as a way to focus on proper pronunciation and to help with word comprehension. Wonder if in today's world they would have fired him for using a Nazi marching song to teach kids German. Something tells me they would.

This PC nonsense is out of control. When Northern Command says one cannot use names like Brave or Warrior there is something rotten in Denmark. When the current CNO says in writing that the Navy needs to recruit more women and to make it a priority recruit women, I know I'm glad I've moved on. Whatever happended to equality of opportunity and then letting the chips fall where they may?

This is not progress.

Skippy-san

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Surfing the net...and getting depressed.

The S.O. and I debated whether to play golf today. I finally threw her a bone and offered to take her up to Tohoku ( northern Japan when I go up there next week on business). So with that resolved, we went to play golf. I'm glad I did. I brought my "A" game today hitting 5 pars out of the first 7 holes, crumpled in the middle, then rallied to finish with a 90. Not so good you say, well its all relative. For me, ITS GREAT!

Does Iraq have a constitution or does it not? According to CNN:

The draft, which was signed by the committee, will now go to the National Assembly. The amendments were made in hopes of appeasing the Sunni Arab minority, although government spokesman Leith Kubba said not all Sunnis agreed.

President Talabani will announce the final draft of the constitution at a 2:30 p.m. (6:30 a.m. EDT) press conference, his office announced.

It was hoped that Sunday would usher in the end of Iraq's prolonged constitution-drafting drama, as Shiite Arab negotiators now say they plan to go to voters in October with a new compromised draft even if they cannot reach agreement with their Sunni counterparts.

Sunni Arabs on Saturday pored over and debated a compromise Shiite-Kurdish proposal for the draft constitution, the latest development in the highly-charged political fight over the fine print and major legal thrusts in the country's future basic law.


What that tells me is that there are still a fair amount of disgruntled Sunnis out there.

Of course that should surprise no one. The Sunnis are going through a hard time right now, because a Shiite dominated Iraq points out one thing: the Kurds and they have access to all the oil; the Sunnis do not. Reduced to its purest form, that is and has been the root problem in Iraq. This restructuring is about wealth transference. If you are a Kurd or a Shiite, then its great ( although in my opinion, if the Kurds get out of line, Turkish troops will be across the border before you can sneeze), if yu are a Sunni, well its the end of the world. To date, I have yet to see anyone throwing them a bone. Also if Christopher Allbritton is to be believed, the Shiites are fighting among themselves. Yep, lots of good news there.

Speaking of wealth transference, Battlepanda points out something that many folks already knew, America uses too much oil; like a junkie with money to spend its not slowing down any time soon. Lets imagine the world oil demand in 20 years:

A post about peak oil is coming up, but I'd like to explain why I wrote about the reserve/consumption figures so much. As is rightly pointed out by QuietStorm in comments, actual consumption is obviously going to be quite different from those numbers. So why bother? Only to show exactly how unsustainable the status quo is.

This is important, because a number of oil optimists (Michael Lynch and Daniel Yergin, to name two) have recently written very optimistic columns about the future of the oil economy. Yergin is perhaps more famous, but Lynch is more delusional - he refuses to even acknowledge the reality of peak production.

I'd like, if I may, to throw just a few more numbers at you to show how unsustainable the oil age is. Let's look at annual per person oil consumption for some of the larger economies out there.

United States: 7.1 Billion barrels per year/295 million people = 24.3 barrels per person per year.
EU: 5.3 Billion barrels per year/457 million people = 11.6 barrels per person per year.
Japan: 1.93 Billion barrels per year/127 million people = 15.2 barrels per person per year.

Now, Japan's per capita GDP is $29,500, whereas the EU's is $26,900, so we can actually say that on average the EU's oil-per-GDP is actually slightly better than Japan's, but I would say this is one of those areas where it's premature to start talking about the EU as a single entity - the variance from
the mean in individual economies is likely to be too large to be useful. So here we have Japan which uses a bit more than 60% of the oil the US does per person, while getting about 75% of the GDP. (GDP could be the wrong measure to use - most of Japan's quality of life indicators are substantially better than the US.) Japan may very well be the most oil-efficient economy in the developed world.

But what if we have to allow for growth? What if China wants a standard of living equal to Japan's - which they manifestly do? Well, we'd need to find an extra 20 billion barrels of oil per year. If India wants in, we need another 20. If we could bring every person on the planet to the level of Japan -
including bringing the EU slightly up, and the US way down - we'd need almost 100 billion barrels of oil per year, or a production of 270 million barrels per day. This is more than triple what we currently consume.

There is simply no way - no physical way whatsoever - that the human race will ever make even
half that much oil per year. If we could, it would deplete global reserves in 10 years, or 20 if we take the absurdly optimistic projection of 2 trillion recoverable barrels.

Oil is not, and cannot be, the basis for a growing global economy in the 21st century. Now, it gets even worse when we start talking about Peak Oil. And I swear that's actually coming next.


She has a whole series on the subject of oil production. For all the right wing wackos out there, I would remind you that while she may be a liberal, she is a liberal who brings facts to the table which is one reason I enjoy reading her blog. I should point out that Battlepanda did not actually write the series, John did, but it could have been written by her. For more detail, read here, here and here. Not sure of all the implications here, but it does point out something I known for a long time; because America has incredibly shitty public transportation in its cities and a less than optimum air transport system, as well as an undying love of cars, the nation uses too much oil and is overly dependent on oil provided by useless Arabs. Points out a great fact I have wondered about for a while: Zimbabwe has a useless dictator, how come we have not invaded there yet?( You don't have to answer that. If you want to however, please, please, please, post a comment.)

Now I know there is more than one side to this story but there is a lot to think about and I am hoping that by throwing such obvious gas on the fire, I can generate some discussion.

Speaking of pissing off conservatives, during my surfing I also stumbled across the following article. Before you dismiss the content because of the source ( Washington Post), ask yourself this, how come many of America's staunchest allies do exactly the same thing. ( Singapore for one..) Namely, take care of providing equality of opportunity. BTW, the Post also points out the downside of the Finnish way and I think the article is pretty "fair and balanced". Of course its from the MSM, so the wackos could never believe that.

Gotta run, but before I do, just thought I would run out and get some industrial strength kerosene to throw on the blogging fire. From my study of history and having read a lot about the period, could there be a grain of truth here? Somehow I doubt the neo-cons would agree. Frankly Scarlett.......

Read for yourself:
Iraq is America's Boer war. Remember that after the British had declared the end of major combat operations in the summer of 1900, the Boers launched a campaign of guerrilla warfare that kept British troops on the run for another two years. The British won only by a ruthlessness of which, I'm glad to say, the democratic, squeamish and still basically anti-colonialist United States appears incapable. In the end, the British had 450,000 British and colonial troops there (compared with some 150,000 US troops in Iraq), and herded roughly a quarter of the Boer population into concentration
camps, where many died.


Now before all of you lay into me, REMEMBER , I'm not endorsing it, just trying to say it struck a chord....

People are still allowed to think these things aren't they? Too bad Cindy Sheehan never studied history. This type of argument would make more sense than the ones she spouts.........

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Tired and cranky

Nothing pithy to write today, I am afraid. I'm just too tired to get anything useful out. It was a good day though, a nice day just a lot of fun.

The S.O. and I quickly kissed and made up since both of us wanted to play golf today. Can't let a silly argument get in the way of something really important! Like Iraq however, the insurgency and all the elements needed for a civil war are still out there, but neither of us has the energy to fight it.

Ended the day watching our local city's fireworks. 42 minutes of fireworks to be precise. Not the wimpy 10 minutes you'd get from an American display, but some great fireworks. Since the S.O. and I went to this same display back when we first met and were fresh in love, it brings back good memories. In fact, she's in the other room sleeping with the "glow" on. I'm "glowing" too, but I can't sleep just yet. Too much nervous energy.

Under the guise of questions I'd like to know:

Who is paying Cindy Sheehan's bills? I don't know about you but I have to go to work and make money to pay my bills. I could not take a month off just camp out in Crawford and if I could, you can bet your ass it would be in Pattaya Beach or some other place with friendlier natives. George Will wrote a great piece pointing out that Cindy all of her cohorts need to be educated on the concept of shelf life. Now she's going to do a bus tour....? I'm all for anything that puts burr in George Bush's saddle, but this is ridiculous.

Plus, if I were here soon to be ex-husband, I'd have folks looking at every penny making its way into her back accounts. Lucky guy, he's probably going to get out scott-free, with no payments, no child support, and a great story to tell women about why he needs to get some loving.......Does point up one thing though. Follow the money trail and you will find out what this nonsense is all about.

Did you know that there is actually news going on outside of Crawford and outside of America? Judging by reading summaries of American news you would not think so. In Hong Kong there is a big murder trial of an Expat wife accused of murdering her husband. This should be big news. It makes the Scott Peterson case look simple. Sex, homosexuality, scandal, computer piracy and porn.....all the goodies. Outside of the Hong Kong blogs and newspapers though, no one has given it one ounce of news print. Go over to Simon's World and read about it yourself. Its a lot more interesting than Cindy Sheehan.

Lex has discovered the site meter's world map function at about the same time I did. I think its so cool to go look at it and see where visitors to this site come from. Its kind of a game I play, trying guess who is looking at these scribblings and wondering about them and their life. What's it like and what do they do? some of the locations I can figure out based on things that other bloggers say, kind of like following bread crumbs. Its cool, but I wish there were more dots there. Look here to see for yourself.

Starting to get sleepy now.

Am I the only one who finds it odd that their are people who are upset because the Iraqi's are coming up with a constitution that is at odds with what the President of the United States wants? Whatever happened to the all the rhetoric about the Iraqi's being free to decide their own destiny. George Bush calling the Shite leaders is going to backfire on him I think. Especially if things do go south, one side or the other is going to blame American interference in the shaping process. Leave them alone. Come to think of it that would be good advice for the rest of the mess too.....

Now I know I need to go to bed. Something better tomorrow, I promise.

Skippy-san

Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday beer and babes!

It's the little victories that count. Tonight, I carried on an argument with the S.O. (almost)entirely in Japanese. ( It was not an argument really, I'd call it more of an explanation. When the chair comes flying at you, as it did with my ex...now that's an argument!). I'm so proud of myself! She understood me well and unlike is normally the case, she did not revert automatically to English. That is a good indicator that : a) she is getting more comfortable with my spoken Japanese, and b) I'm not getting laid tonight!

Actually one of the great things about the S.O. is we usually do not have arguments. I usually cannot stay angry at her, because she is really a nice lady. So its probably better to refer to them as divergences. It would be easier to reach for the eject handle if she were not so kind a woman at heart. For example, tonight she laid my golf clothes out for me while she stomped around the apartment. The she came and gave me a kiss while I was typing this. GRRR! Its tough to stay mad at that. Of course, I'm still pretty sure the only sexual gratification in my immediate future has to come from Rosie and her five sisters.........

So, she'll get over it, and in the mean time I will sit here and type and drink.

Typhoon was underwhelming to say the least. It got through here, 5 hours early which played hell with everyone knowing when to be in to work today. I took the high road, went in early, got my reports done, then snuck away to play golf! Thank God the golf course knew they could be making money!

Quick update on the election here. The TV is having nightly stories about Koizmui theatre (小泉の激情)。Namely the fact that he is sending a lot of famous TV and movie stars out into the rural prefectures to campaign for him and postal reform. The TV is having a field day with it, both pro and con. Latest polls show: "An Asahi newspaper poll published today and conducted from Aug. 22 to 23 showed 32 percent support for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, almost three times the support of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, which had a rating of 11 percent. " So much for DPJ pulling off a miracle. Then again, the same polls showed 51% of the population not interested at all...........

However its a safe bet that there is over 90% interest in this:



And most assuredly 100% interest in this:


Ja ne!

Skippy-san

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Typhoon's a' coming!

Well its less than 9 hours before Typhoon 11 is supposed to get here. (台風十一号).
It seems to be heading right for the Kanto Plain:



Came home, cleaned off the balcony and made the S.O. a nice spaghetti dinner. She is in a nice mood tonight so if I stop this post in mid stream......well, I am sure you will understand. The rain and wind are slowly、 but surely picking up.

Typhoons here are like hurricanes in the states and they are not. There is no day of preparation like one would experience in P-Cola or other locations. Today was a normal work day, the trains ran, life was going on as usual except.....it rained like hell.

The S.O. and I went to a change of command ceremony today. It was an improvised event, given the fact that because of the approaching typhoon, the band and the guest speaker could not make it. It was still a nice ceremony and the guy who was leaving his command tour is a great guy and a great pilot. He's off to the 5 sided tunnel of stupidity, so he is a better soul than me. Then again, he still has upward mobility, something I didn't have during the last 5 years of my military career. I knew I had hit my terminal paygrade well before moving on. Divorce and alimony payments will do that.

Nonetheless, the sight of so many men and women in uniform, doing God's work for the US, got me to thinking about the "chickenhawk" argument that has been raging among the political blogs lately. See examples of this discussion here, here, here and here. Some left side arguments can be found here, and here.



Who's right? Is it simply a cheap shot by Democrats that distracts from the real issues at hand or is there something to the argument that thanks to our all volunteer military, the sons and daughters of privilege are able to get off cheaply, with all the support the President nonsense and none of the real sacrifice that service in the Armed Forces requires?

Actually, both sides are wrong. And both sides are right.

The conservatives see this argument as a slap in the face of serving soldiers and also an attack on civilian control of the military. Liberals argue that its too easy for the "neocons" to take the country into conflicts with no clear cut objectives or victory strategy. They both miss the real issue here.

The real issue is about national service and how on both sides of the aisle, young men ( and sadly now, women) are bypassing the opportunity to fufill their obligation to serve their country, because the time involved is viewed as a lost opportunity to move ahead in their chosen career or ambition. Since the military is an all volunteer proposition, there is no requirement to serve.
Some people from both sides do take their obligations as a man seriously and put in some time in the service. Republicans tend to discount that there are actually Democratic supporters in uniform since they view the service as "their" voting bloc. That's a big mistake.

At the same time, there is some merit to the argument that the military is not representing a cross section of American society. During my final years of active duty, I dealt with a lot of cases, legal and otherwise, of folks who had come from really bad home backgrounds and were using the military as a means to escape / pull themselves up from it. A lot of folks did very well, others not so well. I also had opportunity to encounter some Congressional staffers who, opted to get their masters/ law degree and were working hard to build their "network" so they could get into positions of "real" political pull. They could not have been bothered to take a few years to serve their Nation.

That's why I have always supported the idea of a draft and / or a requirement to perform national service. Back in the "good old days" before the Democratic and Republican parties became hijacked by extremists, this argument could not have been made because most of the members would have done time in service as a matter of course. Its not "Bush's" army or any other person's. Its America's. Both sides need to remember that pronoun: "our".

There is a pretty interesting web site, that shows who in government served and who didn't. Go look at it, the results are pretty interesting and not what you would expect.

To me, that is what the real argument should be about here: namely, what is the obligation of a young man or woman to serve the nation and earn the privileges that come with citizenship. Solve that, and you will go a long way towards unifying a very politically divided country.

my .02

Skippy-san

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Now for something we know you will really like!

That's what Rocky Squirrel used to say on the BullWinkle Show......when they wanted to cut to a commercial:




I stayed home today, trying to kick this persistent hangover cold that has been pestering me for a few days now. With 2 typhoons bearing down on Tokyo, it seemed the prudent thing to do. Accordingly, its given me the ability to rest on the couch by myself and overdose on Star Trek Deep Space Nine, CNN and Cartoon Network. In between, I checked out internet porn blogs a little bit.

I've come to the firm conclusion that I like Expat blogs a hell of lot more than I like US based blogs. Expat blogs lack the stridency of the stateside ones, but they have a hell of lot more humor and sense of what is really important. In no particular order you should check out Expat at Large, Madame Chiang, Hustler Diaries ( especially his ongoing series about unexpected sex!).

Some other observations in no particular order:

If I lived in the Star Trek universe, I suspect I would rapidly become a holosuite junkie. Does having sex with a hologram count as cheating? Or is sex with a holographic girl even possible? Maybe that is why you never see a pornographic Holodeck story........

Under the line of: I really used to be familiar with this subject, there is more bad news on the American economic front. Reinforces the old joke about why a bride smiles when she walks down the aisle............ :



Here is a math question. Does this:



Equal this?




It would seem so judging by Pat's latest FATWA pronouncement calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Way to go Pat! Nothing like bringing us down the same level as the terrorists. Who do you think you are, Michelle Malkin? Or maybe like this guy?
Can you imagine the uproar if one of the folks they don't like had said "Could Pat Robertson be right about Chavez?" Not one word of condemnation on her blog though.

Watched Lou Dobbs during one of my conscious intervals. They had some hackneyed minister trying to explain that Pat's remarks should be looked at as those of a political pundit and not as a minister of the cloth:


HAGGARD: Number one, the First Amendment is wonderful. People have free speech privileges. He wasn't writing a memo to the White House recommending a public policy decision. He was not recommending something to the State Department. He was not exposing himself sexually on
the platform the way Janet Jackson did. Instead, he was having a political discussion, where they were randomly working with some ideas. For Jesse Jackson to exaggerate it this way is just as appalling as what Pat Robertson said, I think.

JACKSON: Well, you know, last week, Mr. Rumsfeld was all down through Latin America suggesting that Chavez was a pariah and a destabilizing force. It's like he was saying, let's get rid of this guy, Pat Robertson said, therefore let us assassinate him. That's the kind of tag team of sorts, and it
must be addressed and it cannot be taken lightly.

HAGGARD: Well, and that's exactly what we're doing. We're addressing it, we're not taking it lightly.
Nobody is taking it seriously as a policy issue. So the system is working.
Everything is fine. Nobody's going to assassinate this man. But we do realize he is a major problem. DOBBS: Well, let me ask you both something, and let's -- the politics, and it's a little different here, Pat Robertson is obviously a prominent Christen conservative, also a prominent member of the president's base, his electoral base. But if we can, let's set that aside just for a minute. And Reverend Haggard, you first introduced this idea of a dichotomy, so let's follow the bifurcation a bit.


HAGGARD: All right.

DOBBS: Let's talk about the man as a minister of God, and all that I could think of, frankly, Reverend, when I heard the comments today was, I wait and -- I have criticized Muslim
leaders in this country for not being stronger in their outrage against the fatwas, whether they be against Salman Rushdie or whether they be against the United States. And there has been what Iconsider an unacceptable, unconscionable lack of outrage on the part of the broader Muslim community against the radical Islamists. Do you not think we run the same risk of having a prominent Christian leader, who is not strongly condemned for those remarks? It's his right to say whatever he wants, but isn't it the responsibility of the Christian leadership, the evangelical leadership in particular, to condemn these remarks in the harshest terms?



End of that story. Methinks Rev Haggard is polishing the unpolishable......

Thank God for Johnny Bravo. A man's man misunderstood by every woman he meets. Kind of like me:


How do you like my hair baby?

Johnny even taught me a new line to use next month when I go to Hong Kong .


10 Top Johnny Bravo Pick-up Lines :

Hey, wanna see me comb my hair really fast?

Hey baby, I can tell we both love the same things; Me!

Oh Momma, I'm so sweet that I've got a mouth full of cavities.

Well baby, what's it like looking at the man of your dreams?

Can you guess how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Bravopop
or Johnnypop .. whatever you prefer?

Hey baby, if this shoe fits then I must be your cinderfella!

Man, it must be great being you watching me!

I'm a dancer, a romancer, you're a capricorn, I'm a cancer!

You smell kinda pretty, wanna smell me?

If loving me is wrong,you don't wanna be right!





Yea, whatever!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Recycled arguments

I was going to write a long article, taking Chap to task for spewing forth the same tired old wisdom about how invading Iraq, set the Middle East up for great things in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Then I remembered that I had already done it.

Its a good theory, but it ignores the fact that Yassir Arafat did more for Middle East progress by having the decency to die......

And besides, Professor Bainbridge has already done the work on this so I won't have to. He summarizes things much better than I can:

The trouble with Bush's justification for the war is that it uses American troops as fly paper. Send US troops over to Iraq, where they'll attract all the terrorists, who otherwise would have come here, and whom we'll then kill. This theory has proven fallacious. The first problem is that the American people are unwilling to let their soldiers be used as fly paper. If Iraq has proven anything, it has confirmed for me the validity of the Powell Doctrine.

Essentially, the Doctrine expresses that military action should be used only as a last resort and only if there is a clear risk to national security by the intended target; the force, when used, should be overwhelming and disproportionate to the force used by the enemy; there must be strong support for the campaign by the general public; and there must be a clear exit strategy from the conflict in which the military is engaged.Powell based this strategy for warfare in part on the views held by his former boss in the Reagan administration, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, and also on his own experience as a major in Vietnam. That protracted campaign, in Powell's view, was representative of a war in which public support was flimsy, the military objectives were not clear, overwhelming force was not used consistently, and an exit strategy was ill defined.

Sounds a lot like Iraq doesn't it? Public support for the war is sliding. We're not using a fraction of our military potential, and there seems to be no clear viable long-term goal or exit strategy. (Skippy-comment, I slightly disagree with his conclusion here, quite simply the effort is being under-resourced because DOD is hell bent not to increase troop strength and has been since before 9-11).


He sums up my feelings exactly when he says:

I haven't changed my mind about cutting and running. I still think that's probably the worst possible strategy. But I'm very angry at Bush for having gotten us into this mess in the first place. And, as per the Powell doctrine, I do think it's time for the administration to come up with both a viable long-term goal and a clear exit strategy.


Q.E.D.

Skippy-san


Monday, August 22, 2005

Short post---more funk!

As I explained in my previous post, my current down mood really has nothing to with the current news, depressing as it may be. You see, Sunday is my daughter's 21'st birthday. It should be a happy time and I should be happy for her. However, thanks mainly to my ex, poisoning the well, she has not communicated with me in over 3 years. The last time I saw her was at her graduation from High School, and even then I had to slink around and see her, at odd times. I even sat up in the stands way back, but I did get to see her cross the stage. Something tells me, I will not be allowed the privledge at her college graduation.

Now from her standpoint she is still angry that I walked out on her mother. From mine, I refuse to allow myself to feel guilty about it anymore. If I had it to do over again, I would have left my daughter's worthless bitch of a mother a hell of a lot sooner. Especially if someone had shown me that life could be this good, I would have never stuck around, " for the sake of the kids". That's lunacy and life is too short to indulge in it. So as a result the only thing I really feel guilty about is not feeling guilty.

So tomorrow I will go out and buy the useless and unappreciated card and present. I will write the tired old letter telling her that I am alive and here, and that it would be good if we communicated. I will remind her that she is an adult now and so she will make choices too, not all of which will turn out to her liking. I'll tell her that I still love her and that I am still here for her. Then I'll write out a check, stick it all in a mailer and send it off. The only response, as usual, will be the check getting cashed. I can only assume that is a trait she gets from her mother.

It makes me angry and sad at the same time. Angry that it has to be this petty and sad that she cannot understand that at some point, I needed ownership of my life again. I could not live with her mother thinking she had the right to hold me as an emotional hostage. Lots more to that, but I do not choose to share it with you. Suffice to say, that I am going to live my live on my terms and I am not going to allow anyone or anything to get in the way of that. My ex thought she could use the Navy to to put me in her pre-designed box. Accordingly, I told them both no.
The Navy understood better than my daughter did.

My daughter is, I am sure, a fine woman. She was 3 years ago. I am very proud of her and I am know she is doing well in her studies because I have my spies. I'm where I want to be now, perhaps that is why I understand Spike so well. His point of view echoes mine almost exactly. I guess my daughter needs to see some of life's pain to understand that. Sad, because I wish I could spare her that.

Here's to my daughter! Long life, health and most importantly happiness. If I'm there great. If not, well, I did my job getting her to adulthood. That's about all any parent can do....

Sadly,

Skippy-san

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The other shoe drops.

I'm in a bit of a funk this evening and I am not sure why. Lots of news out there, and from where I sit, very little of it is good. I know in my heart my down mood really has nothing to do with the news, but I'll get to that later.

The US Army finally made public what I knew for a long time, the war in Iraq is a cancer that is going to plague it and the United States for many years to come. The Army Chief of Staff admitted that the Army is already in the planning stages for maintaining troop strength at "the current number of soldiers in Iraq - well over 100,000 - for four more years, the Army's top general said Saturday."

I think its important to point out that, just planning for a prolonged troop rotation, does not mean that it will necessarily occur. If the situation in the country were to dramatically improve (something I doubt) well then obviously they could slow down or eliminate such deployments. The Army has to stay ahead of the game and this gives them a plan to deviate from. That's only a prudent preparation. Still its depressing in many ways.

Now if you have followed my rantings here, you will know that I am no fan of America's little adventure in Iraq. Not because I am some raving left wing lunatic, or supporter of Cindy Sheehan. My objections are more technical than philosophical, namely that the invasion of Iraq is a diversion from the long term objectives of the global war on terror; that despite whatever benefits may accrue from having Saddam gone, the United States has inserted itself into a region and a nation in the role of invader and occupier with no real good reason and or outcome; and finally that the current occupants of both the White House and the E-Ring office of the SECDEF will continue to resource this effort in a way that is fundamentally bad for all of the armed services and the Army in particular. I find it interesting that many of my associates, both in and out of the military actually agree with me on the last point, but of course in the brave new world of Rummy's DOD, one must keep such traitorous thoughts to himself.

Now there is also a more fundamental, less objective reason I don't like the war in Iraq. I don't like Arabs and I don't like Islam. The latter, I believe, is a millstone around the neck of the former, and prevents them from advancing forward as a civilization. I definitely do not feel they are worth expending American lives and treasure over. That is perhaps racist, but it is a true emotion with me.

I also received word today that a friend of mine has accepted a job with a contractor in Iraq. His motivation is the money, pure and simple. He knows what the risks are and is walking into it with his eyes open. He asked me why I do not consider going the same route. I don't have a good answer for him, except that I just don't want to do it, and I sure as hell do not wish to work in the Middle East and leave Asia.

He's pointed out to me that a year over there would help me solve some big issues. Financially the money would immensely help out my current situation a lot, it would get me away from the S.O. and probably solve that little emotional entanglement. A year of tax free money would help increase my "war chest" dramatically for the inevitable battle that I will have to have with the ex-wife over getting my alimony reduced. So there are arguments in favor of it. However without a powerful motivation to work those kind of hours with those kinds of risks no amount of money is worth it. Besides there are alternatives that are more stable, have better creature comforts and still allow for good money. My sincere appreciation goes out to all of our Soldiers and Marines, who have clearly bought the "s**t" end of this war, yet keep going out every day to do the job and serve. Personal political opinions or no, they are all heroes in my book. That's something that sadly, many liberals forget. The guys serving, just want to be allowed to do their jobs, get the job done and go home. However they are not going to leave if the job is not done. They understand that very well.

A big part of getting that job done is getting the Iraqi Army trained. Looking around the blogosphere while writing this I stumbled upon a very good blog by a guy who is doing just that, Listen to what he has to say and then ask yourself if its all good news coming from this little fracas:

Living off the land is nothing new. In the ten months of this tour I can think of only one instance where my higher headquarters provided the support we requested, and that was only because they
needed us to have what we requested as much as we needed it. The units to which we have been attached have provided resources to sustain the fight, but not much more beyond that.


We are truly the red-headed step-children of this war, and it is easy to understand how. There are two chains of command for support, the U.S. military and the Iraqi government. The Iraqi Army lacks
senior leadership, thus the intent was to stand up battalions of Soldiers and at the same time work at the higher levels to ensure brigades and divisions could support their subordinate units. What happened in reality was the Ministry of Defense (MOD) began issuing direct orders to battalions circumventing the process of the chain of command.


This move was done to immediately support the fight, but has had a long term effect of pandering to incompetent Iraqi leaders at the brigade and division level. Now the U.S. is looking at the exit strategy; me, and are forcing the Iraqi government to support it's own military. The expression I' ve frequently heard is, they must support themselves but we will not let them fail. I say, let them fail. Your mistakes are the only things you can truly call your own, and sometimes people don't learn unless they fail.

Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to have a visit to Camp Thursday by a lieutenant colonel who was an advisor at the MOD level, who promised to provide for the battalion's support needs. Although his picture of who and what was supposed to be on this camp were drastically different from the reality that was before him. Intermittent power, limited life support, and poor force protection were a bit of a surprise for him. Personally, I didn' t think those guys left the palaces in Baghdad ever.

I am now told as advisors we will be attached to the U.S. division that controls the regional battle space, thus we would receive direct support. The issue is there are no points of contact or
means to communicate with them. The division staffs live in their crystal palaces unaware of the ground truth while we live with the Iraqis.


At the same time the Iraqi battalions would be moved and working with in the battle space of their parent brigades and the brigades within their parent divisions a plan concocted almost a year ago, but which is just now being implemented. The Iraqis will be forced to find contracts for their own food service, petroleum needs, equipment maintenance, and all other manner of logistics support. Some of these issues have already been resolved at the MOD level with nepotistic agreements and tribal alignments.

One man has lobbied for his company to provide food services anywhere in the country. A request is simply made via the chain of command and the contractor will find a suitable location, staff and supplies to feed the Iraqi troops. There is apparently a written contract which I am told is easily received from the Iraqi chain of command, however that remains to be seen.

We are told the contractor will furnish several life support needs as a part of this contract, though the manager we deal with here seems to think he is in no way obligated to perform these duties. Hence the negotiations about what is and what should be. We found the same from all other contractors who are providing services here. We have obtained a few statements of work which the contractor does live by once we quote it to him, but getting him to meet is a challenge in itself.

Consistently from all of the contractors we get the expression, basher Inshallah, which translates to, tomorrow if God wills it. Inshalla can mean an accord has been struck, (I agree to those terms) or it can mean maybe (open ended excuse), and the context is incredibly subtle to pickup on. In Arab culture there is no agree to disagree as we have in America. Once an agreement has been reached it is binding, with the loophole of divine intervention. For God may not want you to be successful in that particular agreement.

We' ve gone so far as to detain workers of the food services contractor until he arrived on the camp to discuss his successes and failings in the administration of this contract. This tactic was both successful and wildly entertaining for a few minutes.

In the meanwhile, the Iraqis are doing what they do best, adapting to the conditions they are in. They' ve setup outhouses over the septic tanks, though some of the tanks are for used shower water not septic water. Still the shanties are better than the alternative which is to find little dried piles of excrement wherever they choose.

Until yesterday, every few days we would make a trip to the American base which is across the street, no more than 200 meters to update the officers on the progress of the battalion. However, yesterday we were forced to return the vehicles we've been borrowing for transport. The American officers continually ask if we' ve moved to their base and we continually tell them, tomorrow if God wills it.

We are told the U.S. division commander who controls this area wants no U.S. personnel living on an Iraqi base. Apparently, we are supposed to punch a clock and work from 9-5 just like we are back in the states. This guy has either no idea or has gotten bad information about conducting this advisor mission, and Iraqi culture.

The trust you must establish is not created overnight and cannot be won by punching a clock and commuting. Trust is a two way street, and if you don't trust them by living with them, they won't trust you or your suggestions or advice even if they've heard it before from someone they do trust. In this way I do not envy the next team that will eventually replace us. They will have the challenge of not living with their Iraqi counter parts, as well as the mass exodus that occurs when advisors leave.

We have been given orders to not ride around in unarmored vehicles like the Nissan pickups we use on the base, and we have been told we cannot walk onto the base. Either of those courses of action
would result in us being shot at or denied access, or both, so we are told. Thus we haven’t tried. The trucks we used on combat missions are still with the bulk of the battalion’s combat power at our old base being used daily by the rest of the team.


As a team our thinking is unanimous, that our remaining time is too brief to make the effort to move. Especially since the Americans who are to host us are not making any effort to support that move. In a few weeks time the bulk of the battalion will be here, as will the bulk of our team and our trucks. A few very short days after that our replacements will arrive.The end is near inshalla.


From my own experience dealing with Arab contractors in Bahrain, I understand his frustration. So you can crow all you want about the good news stories coming out of Iraqi, this is the central story to getting US troops home and it is hardly a good one. Fundamentally, Arab culture is flawed and they are making no moves to change it. And they won't, as long as oil is $68 dollars a barrel.

Eventually, just as in Weimar Germany, a strong man is going to re-emerge. Only he will use Islam as his unifying force and the results will not be to the liking of the US.

There's more to my funk than this etheral stuff though. Next post, I'll explain my sadness because my daughter's birthday is approaching. However for today, this depressing news will have to be sufficient to itself.

Skippy-san

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Giving Michelle a hard time

I've decided to go on a rampage this coming week. I'm joining the forces ridiculing watching Michelle Maclagalang. The woman needs sedatives, quickly.

Came upon this though, while doing some internet research. She seems to have taken offense to it. Can't for the life of me understand why:




Taken straight from posts on her blog, the rest is pretty funny....or pretty sacrilegious depending on your point of view. Read it here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday Beer and Babes

TGIF!!!! Today is a beautiful, albeit, hot day. I should be out playing golf, but instead I'm in going over budget sheets........Deciding which pots of money we can spend out of and which we can't. They should just write a check out to me and I'll spend it well, I promise.

Plus, they gave me a new computer a couple of days ago That meant the whole day before I had to move all of my porn work files to a disk, tunnel into explorer and wipe out all history of the blogs I surf at work, and otherwise, prepare my old machine to look like virginal bride before her wedding. Although just like the bride before her wedding night, we all know she played around before, but hey, whatever makes the denier provider of information services happy!

As if I did not have enough to worry about, The Marmot's Hole reminds me of yet one more reason I should not sleep well at night:


When China and Russia launch their first joint military exercise tomorrow, their neighbor's will be wondering why long-range strategic bombers and amphibious landing craft are being deployed in what is supposed to be an anti-terrorism drill.

The two countries are calling it Peace Mission 2005, but it looks more like a rehearsal for full-scale war. The 10,000 Russian and Chinese soldiers will be practicing a variety of standard combat techniques: long-range bombing runs, cruise-missile attacks, a naval assault on a coastal beachhead and a parachute landing by paratroopers.


Yea, it looks like I should spend the weekend with a few of these:



And I sure would like curl up with a new one of these:



Sadly, I'll probably end up stuck with one of these:



Sigh!

Skippy-san

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Koizumi election watch....plus a blog round up!

The next Japanese election is on September 11 th. How wierd is that? I miss the days when 9/11/xx was just another day in the week. Bin Laden and his ilk should be hung by their gonads for that travesty alone.......they screwed up the good life over here in Asia.

Right now the polls are in his favor:
Newspaper polls in Japan have given Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi a significant boost, contrary to forecasts that his surprise decision to call a snap election could spell a premature end to his leadership.

Surveys in two Japanese papers showed a climb in support for the 63-year-old premier and conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader. In more good news for him, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei share average was poised Thursday for its highest finish in four years, an achievement attributed to renewed confidence in the Japanese economy.

So it would seem that, at first glance, the Japanese public really is fond of Koizumi dai jin's (小泉大臣)display of "cajones". However, in Japanese politics things are never what they seem. Consider these things:

1) USFJ has imposed a gag order regarding comment about future basing options for fear of upsetting the current government.

2) All the US personnel in Japan are on pins and needles regarding a liberty incident that might make the papers. Then stand by, all bets are off.

The DPJ ( Democratic party of Japan) Minshutou (民主党), thinks they might be able to do the impossible, win. I'm not so sure. Polls as of this week showed:

Polls in the Asahi Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun dailies show support for Koizumi and his government had risen from 41 to 46 percent, and from 37 to 46 percent respectively.

A poll in a third paper, Yomiuri Shimbun, found 52 percent of respondents understood why Koizumi
had called an early election

That's hardly what I would call a comforting majority. Nonetheless he is the best Prime Minister Japan has seen in years and I hope he wins......

More to follow.

Meanwhile:

Stopover to Bitchbert's site and wish her well. She's got a lot on her plate right now.

Meanwhile over at Winds of Change is a great article that reinforces for me, why I hate Arabs and why most of their experiments with democracy are doomed to failure........

And really, I don't care so long as they sell the US and Asia oil.......

Also, for those of you are curious about things I did in my past life, you should cruise on over to Lex's site and read his "Rhythms" series. Its what carrier aviation is really like.

Spike is up in Shanghai, studying Mandarin and going sexless. Considering the amount of poontang that is around him and studying with him, he's better man than I, at the least I would have already been to a barber shop for a shave, a hair cut, and a blowjob!

Meanwhile over at Mango Sauce, they point out something I probably knew but never bothered about, for obvious reasons of quality comparison:

Thailand is probably the easiest place on Earth to score with farang women if you can be bothered. I had a couple of mates over from England this week and, despite being middle-aged and ordinary, we had to beat off pretty young farang girls with a shitty stick.

While dining at Anna's one evening, we noticed a couple of farang babes sitting in stony silence on the next table. Their outrageous slutwear and miserable expressions made them look
like snotty Russian hookers so we didn't give them a second glance, but when Anna Kournikova's better-looking sister tottered off to the toilet her semi-naked brunette mate turned round to say hello. They were actually from England.


Like most Western girls holidaying in Bangkok, they were all dressed up with nowhere to go and had given up trying to put a brave face on it. We were being sounded out as their unlikely saviours.

Madame Chiang posts about a problem I am familiar with, drinking and blogging. To be honest, I could not tell from the previous post............

Of course, back in la la land, the same strident buffoonry continues......

Makes me wonder if the The Economist was right when they wrote:

Mr Jennings's success at ABC was set against the decline not just of network news (the average age of ABC's audience is now 60) but also of the journalism he enjoyed. Impartiality has given way to the stridency of Fox News and the internet bloggers. Meanwhile, foreign coverage is dwindling: last year, NBC's evening news show devoted just five minutes to the genocide in Darfur, CBS a mere three and ABC, thanks in part to Mr Jennings, 18. By contrast, they together devoted 130 minutes to the plight of Martha Stewart.

From their obituary for Peter Jennings. Can't say as I disagree with them.

Are you listening, Michelle Maglagalang?

Skippy-san

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

2 more reasons I am glad I live in Asia!

Some of the things that are going on in my home country of the USA, make me wonder if the inmates have taken over the asylum. As I have said before, the idea of returning to a "suburban" existence in the USA, makes my skin crawl. I suspect I might be forced into it, if for some reason my job here were to go away (always a risk these days in the DOD.....), but I won't go quietly.

So in the interim here are two more reasons why I'm glad I'm here and they are there:

Cindy Sheehan. This media circus makes absolutely no sense to me. The woman met with the President already. He's not going to change his mind and neither is she. Her husband is divorcing her. Her family thinks she has gone nuts. Right wing wackos like Bill O'Reilly think she is an agent of the devil himself. How crazy is all of this?

Actually, Lex posted the most common sense argument that I have seen: just ignore her and leave her alone. If this brings closure to her and makes her feel useful, then go ahead and let her knock herself out. So long as no laws are violated, which I guarantee you the Secret Service and the Crawford authorities are going to make sure of, let her rant in the wind. Hell, here in Japan we get right wing speaker trucks out on the street at least once a week. Nobody thinks anything of it except them:

The loud-speaker-mounted trucks of the uyoku , or ultra-nationalists, are an inescapable and noisy feature on the streets of every Japanese city. These mobile ghetto blasters, decorated with Rising Sun flags and screaming slogans, blare out distasteful right-wing messages or stop outside large companies and banks, broadcasting embarrassing statements about them. There are estimated to
be around a thousand such ultra-nationalist groups in Japan, and to a startling extent, the police turn a blind eye (and deaf ear) to their activities. Politicians and the media who openly criticize the ideals and institutions they hold dear, such as the imperial household, set themselves up for some kind of nasty retribution.

Another thing I am thankful for:

Michelle Macaglang does not live here. ( you know her, she's the C**T). Although of Asian descent she would never , ever, admit it. During my research about Cindy Sheehan, I remain just mystified at the strength of the vitriol she spews forth every day. The Duck has a nice post pointing out the nice looking lady's sins and misdemeanors as well as some good links to sites that do nothing but monitor and fact check her every word. Actually The Duck has a pretty good analysis of her very warped thought processes:


"It's sweet to see Ms. Maglalang getting her comeuppance for her Macbeth-like plotting, conniving and prevaricating. All over the blogosphere, you'll see references to her outrageous efforts to demolish the character" of anyone who has opinions contrary to hers. .

What of course is really interesting is her bio and some history of how she got to be the "uberblogger" that she is, and more importantly makes a handsome living doing it too.

"There's the question of how mediagenic an author is. That's looks, partly, and Malkin is making the most out of that. It's also a question of how quote-friendly or talk-show articulate an author is, and here Malkin has comes off fairly poorly, but certainly better than most academics might. On television, Malkin simply appears to be not terribly bright. Most academics have a different problem in the media, and that's an inability to compress what they know into digestible, amusing bits and to know when and how to take a joke and roll with the punches. "

From the History News Network.......


Its frustrating. I can write just as badly as she can, and my readership is in the 1000 range, hers is in the hundreds of thousands. Its just not fair! Especially since her only main talent seems to be stirring the pot:

Now, both O'Reilly and Malkin claim, erroneously, to be journalists, but neither seemed inclined to dig a bit deeper into claims made by a notorious almost hit and entirely miss outfit like
Drudge before they slime the mother of one of the troops they constantly claim to support. Nope, they just ran with it, for gosh sakes. Let's not call them journalists, but admit that they play them on TV.

From my view in the cheap seats, Malkin is not a critical writer at all. As I said before, she uses no critical thought , she just prints it out with strength. On average, she puts out 6-7 posts a day. Not bad for a supposed homemaker. There are those who say she has a ghost writer, although she denies it vehemently.

Of course, if Michelle ever decides to remember her roots, there is a place where she can work. After all, she's already established what she is, this is just a matter of haggling over the price!

Skippy-san

P.S. While doing the spell check for this post, every time the word Malkin came up, the alternative Blogger gave me was "malign". Who said computers can't think?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Jishin ga arimasu!!!!!

I was in my office about an hour ago when the chair started shaking. No I was not falling asleep, pleasuring myself, or any other such thing. The floor was just moving, gently but it was moving. The walls of the building were shaking and there was a low groan as the building was moving in response to the ground moving beneath it. The hanging lights were swaying, the coffee in the cups shaking.

Jishin! (地震 earthquake).

Turns out there was a large earthquake up in Sendai. 7.0 on the scale. Read all about it here.
Usually I don't feel an earthquake until the building comes crashing down around me. To feel this level of tremor from over 200 miles away........oh boy!

Better yet watch the video!!!


So I guess this means we can't leave early?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Tainichi sensou kinen-bi


Japanese citizens listen to the Emperor broadcast the news that Japan had accepted the Potsdam declaration

In Japan, August 15 is known as Shusen kinenbi 終戦記念日。(literally, end of the war memorial day.) This year is the 60th anniversary of the end of taiheiyou dai sensou.太平洋大戦争。(The Pacific War). At noon, August 15 1945 Showa (Emperor Hirohito) made the following broadcast:


To our good and loyal subjects: After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our empire today, we have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure. We have ordered our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that our empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by our imperial ancestors and which we lay close to the heart. Indeed, we declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to insure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone--the gallant fighting of our military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of out servants of the State and the devoted service of our 100,000,000 people--the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest. Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, nor to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our imperial ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers. We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia.

The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met death [otherwise] and all their bereaved families, pains our heart night and day. The welfare of the wounded and the war sufferers and of those who lost their homes and livelihood is the object of our profound solicitude.

The hardships and sufferings to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the [unavoidable] and suffering what is unsufferable.

Having been able to save and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, we are always with you, our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity. Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion that may engender needless complications, of any fraternal contention and strife that may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.

Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith of the imperishableness of its divine land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibilities, and the long road before it. Unite your total strength to be devoted to the construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, nobility of spirit, and work with resolution so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.

There is an interesting account of Japan's longest day here. I find it interesting that Japan had actually been in surrender negotiations for some time prior to the Hiroshima bombing. However, sadly for Japan, they labored under an illusion that the Soviet Union might bring them some salvation:


Japan was waiting for Russia to respond to their request for negotiations before making any moves. They hoped for a reply around August 6 or 7. Instead, on August 6th an atomic bomb was dropped on the population of Hiroshima. And on the night of August 8th, Russia declared war on Japan (IMTFE, pg. 31,172).

During this time (Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal) Kido continued to discuss the need for peace with the emperor and members of the government. On August 12th he steered Prime Minister Suzuki back to favoring surrender when Suzuki wavered (IMTFE, pg. 31,184 - 31,186).

Kido's final effort for peace was probably also his most harrowing. On the morning of August 14th he received word that U.S. planes were dropping leaflets on Japan containing the U.S. and Japanese peace proposals. Fearing a backlash by the Japanese military, Kido rushed to advise the emperor, in Kido's words, "to command the government without further loss of time to go through the formalities for terminating the war". The emperor agreed and sent Kido to make arrangements with Suzuki for the government to meet. The government surrendered that day at the emperor's request (IMTFE, pg. 31,189 - 31,190; Statements, Kido, no. 61541; see also Butow, pg. 205-209, Sigal, pg. 267-271).

Click here to see some fascinating correspondence between Japan and the United States regarding the surrender.

Still, when the news was announced the reaction of the Japanese people was shock:


It was August 15, 1945, shortly before noon. What followed would never be forgotten.

Aihara Yu was twenty-eight years old then, a farmer's wife in rural Shizuoka prefecture. Through the decades to come, the day would replay itself in her memory like an old
filmstrip, a staccato newsreel in black and white.

She was working outdoors when a messenger arrived breathless from the village. It had been announced that the emperor would be making a personal broadcast at noon, he exclaimed before rushing off. Everyone was to come and listen.

The news that America, the land of the enemy, had disappeared into the sea would hardly have been more startling. The emperor was to speak! In the two decades since he had ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne, Emperor Hirohito had never once spoken directly to all his subjects. Until now the sovereign's words had been handed down in the form
of imperial rescripts all as printed texts, pronouncements humbly read by others. Half a century later, Aihara could still recall every detail. She rushed to the village, repeating over and over to herself a line from the Imperial Rescript on Education, which everyone knew by heart from daily recitation during their school years. "Should any emergency arise," it went, "offer yourselves courageously to the State." She knew the country's situation was desperate and could only imagine that the emperor was going to exhort every Japanese to make even greater efforts to support the war. A— to be prepared, indeed, to fight to the bitter end.

The villagers had gathered around the single local radio over which the single state-run station was received. Reception was poor. Static crackled around the emperor's words, and the words themselves were difficult to grasp. The emperor's voice was high pitched and his enunciation stilted. He did not speak in colloquial Japanese, but in a highly formal language studded with ornamental classical phrases. Aihara was just exchanging puzzled glances with others in the crowd when a man who had recently arrived from bombed-out Tokyo spoke up almost, she recalled, as if to himself. "This means," he whispered,
"that Japan has lost."



Or as Douglas MacArthur said 3 weeks later:




Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won....

As I look back upon the long, tortuous trail from those grim days of Bataan and Corregidor, when an entire world lived in fear, when democracy was on the defensive everywhere, when modern civilization trembled in the balance, I thank a merciful God that he has given us the faith, the courage and the power from which to mold victory. We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.

A new era is upon us. Even the lesson of victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization. The destructiveness of the war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery, has in fact now reached a point which revises the traditional concepts of war.

Men since the beginning of time have sought peace.... Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural development of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.



Skippy-san

Saturday, August 13, 2005

While I was away.........

Tonight is the Tokyo Bay fireworks. The S.O. and I were supposed to be on a train there by now, but thanks to the arrival of her "monthly friend" she has been laid low and begged off. At first I was miffed and a tad bit skeptical, then by accident, I stumbled on a detailed play by play of the experience on Helen's blog. Since her complaints echoed many of the S.O.'s, I took pity on her, put her up on the couch with a blanket and a glass of wine and proceeded to make dinner. Besides, she wants to conserve her strength to go play golf tomorrow, so how can any one argue with that? I would be curious to see if you ladies out there agree with Helen's description.

So we stayed in and had dinner. Since she is not feeling well, not much else to do except blog:


So with time on my hands and beer on my desk, might as well do a round up of events on the proper side of the international date line (e.g. west of it!)

The big news here in Japan is Prime Minister Koizumi's decision to tell the opposition to "bring it on!" by dissolving parliament and calling for new elections. This is a very risky move on his part, because the issue in question, postal service privatization is not necessarily a sure win for him. Now for the folks on the wrong side of the dateline......perhaps you are wondering what the big deal is over something like postal reform. Here in Japan, the postal system is also a huge bank. The better way to think of this situation: Its as if the US Senate would kill the President of the United States' plan to overhaul Social Security: So GW dissolves congress and stakes his reputation over this:


Manages 25% of Japan's personal assets
25,000 offices and 260,000 employees
330 trillion yen (nearly $3 trillion) in savings and deposits
85% of population has postal savings


Add to that, much of the population is not wild about the government tinkering with their retirement savings.....( Remember too, retirement age here is much lower than in the states...) and you can see the problem

Furthermore, those assets are a huge slush fund that the government takes advantage of to pay bills, build roads, even build buildings on American bases. No self respecting Japanese politician wants to much with that pork barrel gravy train. So the fight will be a tough one:

But the plans had been opposed by many, who feared they would lead to a poorer postal services.

Opponents also said the reforms would lead to many job losses in rural communities.

Japan Post is a huge organization, which has about 25,000 post offices nationwide, which all sell the system's savings and insurance products, as well as regular postal services.

In contrast, the seven main national banks have only 2,600 branches between them.

Japan Post is also the biggest buyer of Japanese government bonds, helping Tokyo maintain unusually high levels of public debt.

In rural areas it has been traditionally used by politicians as an unofficial vote-gathering machine - and has often been used to support politically popular public works.

Local post masters have a certain status in small communities, and the job is often handed down over generations.

The package of six bills proposed that Japan Post became privatized by 2017, and divided into private companies handling mail delivery, banking and insurance.


There are huge ramifications for the US if Koizumi loses, particularly as the negotiations for basing a nuclear carrier are coming to their end game. Many had expected an annoucement this fall, that the Japanese government would allow a nuclear powered carrier to be homported in Yokosuka. Koizumi loses....who knows?

The election is less than a month away, should be interesting to watch.

Stay tuned to these pages, in an upcoming post I will talk about those US bases and their future........

Skippy-san

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